Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, RWP, RSP, psc, GR (Sinhala: ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ; Tamil: கோட்டாபய ராஜபக்ஸ; born 20 June 1949) is a Sri Lankan politician and former military officer currently serving as the 8th President of Sri Lanka since 2019. He has previously served as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development from 2005 to 2015 under the administration of his elder brother former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, leading the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to the military defeat of the Tamil tigers, which ended the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Born to a prominent political family from the Southern Province, Rajapaksa was educated at Ananda College, Colombo and joined the Sri Lankan Army in April 1971. Following basic training at the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa, he was commissioned as signals officer and later transferred to several infantry regiments. He saw active service in the early stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War with the elite Gajaba Regiment, taking part in several major offensives such as the Vadamarachi Operation, Operation Strike Hard and Operation Thrividha Balaya, as well as counter-insurgency operations during the 1987–1989 JVP insurrection.
He took early retirement from the army and moved into the field of information technology, before immigrating to the United States in 1998. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2005, to assist his brother in his presidential campaign and was appointed Defence Secretary in his brother’s administration. During his tenure the Sri Lankan Armed Forces successfully concluded the Sri Lankan Civil War defeating the Tamil Tigers and killing its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009. He was a target of an assassination attempt in December 2006 by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber. Following the war, Rajapaksa initiated many urban development projects. He stepped down following the defeat of his brother in the 2015 Presidential election.
In 2018, he emerged as a possible candidate for the 2019 presidential election, which he successfully contested on a pro-nationalistic, economic development and national security platform. He is the first person with military background to be elected as President of Sri Lanka and also the first person to be elected president who had not held an elected office prior.